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τὰ εἴκοσι ἔτη κτλ. A woman's ἀκμή lasts ‘the twenty,’ a man's the thirty' years. Glauco asks ‘which twenty and which thirty?’ and Socrates then explains. τά before εἴκοσι is correctly explained by Stallbaum: “articulum ponit de certo quodam cogitans temporis spatio quod deinceps definit accuratius.” The antecedent to αὐτῶν is not simply ἔτη (so J. and C., with the English translators), but the duplicate expression εἴκοσι ἔτη and τριάκοντα. In γυναικὶ μὲν κτλ. Socrates proceeds as if Glauco had not interrupted: the construction is μέτριος χρόνος ἀκμῆςγυναικί, ἀνδρὶ δὲ τὰ τριάκοντα, γυναικὶ μὲντίκτειν, ἀνδρὶ δὲγεννᾶν. τὸ ποῖον, τὰ ποῖα and the like are idiomatically used in asking for further specification, and are sometimes only impatient interruptions, intended to draw attention to the important point and add liveliness to the style: see Kühner Gr. Gr. II p. 540. Schneider takes τὰ εἴκοσι ἔτη and τὰ τριάκοντα as twenty and thirty years of age respectively, comparing τῶν ἐνενήκοντα ἐτῶν in Tim. 21 A, but χρόνος in χρόνος ἀκμῆς means duration, as is clear from ἀμφοτέρωνφρονήσεως below. It should be observed that in the Laws Plato fixes the inferior limit for men sometimes at 25 (772 D), sometimes at 30 (721 A, 785 B). By thirty-five he expected them to be married (ib.). Girls are to marry between 16 (785 B) or 18 (833 D) and 20 (ib.). Cf. Hesiod OD. 696 ff., pseudo-Solon Fr. 27. 9 and Arist. Pol. H 16. 1335^{a} 28. The Greeks seem generally to have recommended men to marry a little under or a little over thirty. See on this subject Blümner Privatalterthümer p. 36 note 1.

τίκτειν τῇ πόλει -- γεννᾶν τῇ πόλει. These phrases express concisely the Platonic view of marriage. They are equally applicable to the Spartan ideal, and may have been borrowed from Sparta. Cf. Plut. Pyrrh. 28. 5 τῶν δὲ πρεσβυτέρων τινὲς ἐπηκολούθουν βοῶντες: Οἷχε, Ἀκρότατε, καὶ οἷφε τὰν Χιλωνίδα: μόνον παῖδας ἀγαθοὺς τᾷ Σπάρτᾳ ποίει. “What Lucan observes about Cato of Utica, is applicable to the Guardians of the Platonic Republic: — Venerisque huic maximus usus | progenies: Urbi pater est, Urbique maritus” (Phars. II 387 f.) Grote.

ἐπειδὰν -- ἀκμήν: ‘when he has outlived his swiftest prime of running.’ The expression ὀξυτατην δρόμου ἀκμήν is doubtless borrowed from some epinikian poet, perhaps Bacchylides or Pindar. The dactylic rhythm is not in itself enough to justify us in assigning the phrase (with Herwerden) to epic or elegy. The author of the quotation was probably speaking not of a man, but of a race-horse. By applying the phrase (of course in a metaphorical sense) to his bridegrooms, Plato contrives again to suggest the now familiar analogy of a ‘breeding-stud of horses and mares’: see on 460 C. The comparison gains in realism and point, if it was the custom of antiquity, as it is now, to bring a first-rate racer to the stud (ἱπποφόρβιον, ἱπποτροφεῖον) when he ceased to run. This is probable in itself, and supported to some extent by a comparison of Plut. Lyc. 15. 12 ἵππους ὑπὸ τοῖς κρατίστοις τῶν ὀχείων βιβάζουσι, χάριτι πείθοντες μισθῷ τοὺς κυρίους with Virg. Georg. 3. 209—211. Just so Plato will not allow his guardians to marry until the fever in the blood has somewhat cooled: cf. Laws 775 B—776 B and J. B. Mayor in Cl. Rev. X p. 111. Stallbaum was the first to detect the poetical quotation. J. and C., though translating by “his swiftest prime of running,” follow Schleiermacher in understanding the phrase literally; but we may fairly doubt if Greek runners had passed their prime at 25, and, even if they had, “non hic erat tali designationi locus, nisi forte ob id ipsum, quod cursui minus idonei forent, ad nuptias idoneos visos credimus” (Schneider). παρῇ means ‘let go by,’ “hinter sich hat” (Schneider): cf. such expressions as παριέναι καιρόν (II 370 B al.), νύκτα μέσην παρέντες (Hdt. VIII 9), and especially Soph. O. C. 1230 εὖτ᾽ ἂν τὸ νέον παρῇ ‘when he hath seen youth go by’ (Jebb), and Bacchylides 3. 88 ed. Kenyon ἀνδρὶ δ̓ [οὐ θ]έμις πολιὸν π[αρ]έντα | γῆρας θάλ[εια]ν αὖτις ἀγκομίσσαι | ἥβαν.

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  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Plato, Timaeus, 21a
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1230
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